by Cassandra Waters. Originally posted at AFL-CIO Now
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a report in response to a complaint brought under the free trade agreement between the United States and the Dominican Republic, known as the Central America Free Trade Agreement–Dominican Republic (CAFTA–DR), which detailed severe worker abuse on sugar plantations. The vast majority of sugar workers are Haitian or of Haitian descent. Most are undocumented, leaving them particularly vulnerable to extreme exploitation. The DOL’s report confirms ongoing, systematic abuses, including the use of child and forced labor; hazardous working conditions; wage theft; denial of medical, pension and other benefits if the worker is undocumented; routine violations of minimum wage and overtime rules; and retaliatory firings against union activists and workers who attempt to mount legal challenges against their employer. Unfortunately, this is not news to anyone familiar with the issue—the industry has been under fire for decades and has been the subject of multiple studies and media reports.